If you have minor children and have not yet selected a guardian, you are not unlike many parents who put off this critically important task while waiting for the perfect solution to present itself.
Or perhaps you and your spouse/partner cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian for your kids.
Here is your solution: Done is better than perfect. Especially here.
If you do nothing, the decision about who would raise your children (if something were to happen to you) would be left up to a judge to decide. A judge who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know what’s important to you, and doesn’t know your children will make all the decisions about who cares for the people who are most important to you in the world.
I know that’s not what you want.
When a judge chooses, they're deciding based on legal and biological relationships, not emotional ones. So, who looks good on paper may not be the people you would want your children ending up with. And once the children are appointed to guardians it becomes very, very difficult to have them removed from that person's care.
Responsible parents protect their children, and that means you must think about the unthinkable.
Fortunately, there is a sensible approach to the selection of a guardian for your children that makes it a lot easier.
First, sit down with your spouse or significant other and draw up a list of all potential people you would be willing to have raise your children.
Don’t judge anyone on the list or even consider whether they would be willing. Just make as long a list as you can of all the people you know, like and trust and that your children know, like and trust. It can be helpful if each of you and your parenting partner make these lists separately and then compare notes later.
Then, put your list(s) aside.
Now, make a list of your most important values when it comes to raising your children. Things like, prior relationship with your children, education level, discipline philosophy or parenting style.
Under no circumstances would you want to consider the financial resources of the people you are considering because it’s up to you to provide enough financial resources for your children and the people you’ve named as their guardians.
Finally, rank your values and compare those values to your list of potential guardians and put each of those people (or couples) in order first, second and third.
Once you have your list, check it against these practical considerations:
Does your child know them? Ideally, your guardian selection will be someone your child already knows and trusts.
Do they live close by? It is probably not ideal to uproot your children from their local community if you can help it.
Do they share your values? You will want to choose someone who can raise your children with the same values and beliefs that you would.
How old are they? Choosing an elderly person as guardian could mean that your children could lose them too at a tender age.
Do they already have a family? If your choice as guardian already has children of their own, would your children blend in well with their family?
Are they willing to take on the responsibility? Hopefully the person(s) you choose as guardian would welcome the responsibility, but not everyone does. Be sure you have a candid conversation with them before you name them as guardian.
Finally, document your choices, legally and clearly. We have a proven process for creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan for your children that covers not just the long-term care of your children, but the immediate term as well. Gives instructions to your guardians and caregivers. And puts an ID card in your wallet so your children would never be left in the care of strangers.
Keep in mind that your choice for guardian today could change, and you will likely want to update your guardianship designation as your life and circumstances dictate.
Make 2017 the year you put the proper protections in place for your family by calling our office to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.
Written by Brittany L. Lastition, Esq., Associate Attorney, Marquardt Law Firm, P.C.
Recently relocated to the San Antonio area from Florida Ms. Lastition has a passion for helping families prepare legal plans that will work for their family when it is needed most. Ms. Lastition has learned first-hand the devastating effect that poor legal planning can have on a family and will work daily toward Marquardt Law Firm, P.C.’s vision to become the preeminent, regional asset protection and wealth preservation law firm.
A graduate of the University of Florida in 2008 Ms. Lastition received her Law Degree in 2016 from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. Ms. Lastition has worked in the legal field since 2004 at one time working closely with and representing disabled veterans fighting for their disability benefits from the Veterans Administration. We are incredibly grateful to have Ms. Lastition as a member of the Marquardt Team and we are certain that she will add another layer of success to our quality driven firm.